Widow hits out at hospital care

A TEACHER and former top hockey player was served a full meal while he lay dying under strict nil by mouth orders in a Suffolk hospital, his widow has claimed.

A TEACHER and former top hockey player was served a full meal while he lay dying under strict nil by mouth orders in a Suffolk hospital, his widow has claimed.

Denis Horgan, who led Suffolk to a national men's hockey final in 1982, died in the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds on April 10 of bronchial pneumonia, aged just 54.

His wife Shaen, speaking from the family home in Bury, told the EADT that she was alarmed at the level of care her husband received while being treated in the hospital - especially when she arrived to find a meal at his bedside, despite his inability to take food orally.

Furthermore, she said that had not been able to be with her husband during his final moments, because she had not been told of the deterioration of his condition.

She said: "The high dependency unit was fine, but on the general wards I felt there was a lack of care and he was served food when he should have been on nil by mouth, that didn't contribute to his death but I believe it shows a lack of care."

Mr Horgan had been close to death on two occasions during his month-long hospital stay, and each time Mrs Horgan had been informed and was able to attend the hospital, but this did not occur on the third and final occasion.

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She added: "It's distressing for me, it's distressing to see Denis go like he did and not have been able to be there."

Mrs Horgan claimed hospital staff not only tried to serve food to her husband, but she was shocked when nurses asked her whether Mr Horgan had taken his medication, and doctors asked her about his condition.

She also criticised the hospital's hygiene regime and said there was a "lack of communication" between staff which needed to be addressed, adding: "Patients should be treated like human beings rather than a number or a bed."

And Mrs Horgan said she intends to complain to hospital bosses about her husband's treatment.

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We would urge Mrs Horgan to contact the trust to make a formal complaint and we will thoroughly investigate the matter."

Denis Horgan was a sporting all rounder and had played football for Ipswich Town's youth team, but decided on a career in teaching at school-leaving age.

He was picked for the England under-21s hockey side while still at teaching college and represented the East of England, Suffolk and successfully captained Bury St Edmunds Hockey Club.

In 1982, the well known and popular goalkeeper scored the winning penalty which led Suffolk to the final of the national men's hockey final.

He was also a serious contender for the Great Britain side, and was a popular teacher at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, and Thurston Community College, where he met his wife, who still teaches there.

Tributes have poured in from the sporting community, and hockey aficionado Harold Chrystal said: "He was one of the best players Suffolk ever had and one of the best ambassadors for the county.

"He was the most popular man wherever we went with the opponents as well as our side."

Mrs Horgan said: "His children and I were very proud of his achievements, he was a loving dad and he was very proud of his children."

He leaves behind a son Joseph, 14, and twins Kieran and Jessica, 11, and his funeral service will be held at Bury St Edmunds Catholic Church on Friday.

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